Friday, June 11, 2010

Use data mining to YOUR advantage

Whether you're talking about Facebook, or Twitter, or Google, or whoever, the one common thread is that these companies are desperately looking for ways to make money off of all of the data that they collect from us. Many of the controversies that are erupting around the web boil down to this single issue. We provide data, and the services collect it. What are they going to do with it?

In a sense, we may feel helpless about this. "Mark Zuckerberg is taking all my data!" we whine.

But we have to remember one thing - we are the ones who are providing the data. This simple truth provides power.

Sometimes we will agree with our wise corporate benefactors and shout things like "Go Lakers!" for their benefit.

But sometimes we take control. Take a look at this Foursquare checkin:

This place sucks, bit gotta pick up my love. (@ GEICO)

Or this one:

The iced coffee sucks but it's still great (@ Brooklyn Fire Proof East)

Or this one:

Omg what happened? Quiznos sucks now (@ Quiznos Sub)

To see countless similar examples, just scan through the results of (The "" is a handy way to find Foursquare check-ins.)

Unlike more organized movements, in which a bunch of people adopt a hashtag to protest something or another, all of the examples above are pure individual points of frustration.

And they're all getting pumped right into the data mines.

Of course there are other things that you can do to the data mines which probably aren't recommended - pumping in false information, or pumping in libelous information. And even if what you add to the data mine is absolutely truthful, there's always the chance that someone may try to suppress it. However, the same Googles, Facebooks, and Twitters that are trying to make money off of your data have a vested interest in preserving it - if I find out that one data mine censors information while a second one doesn't, aren't I more likely to rely on the second data mine?

So remember to use these companies' information-gathering to your advantage, and make sure that they gather the information that YOU want them to gather.
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